Many people are still confused about whether or not white rice is good for you. For one, we are often told that the Asian way of eating is a healthy one, and we know they eat a lot of white rice. White rice is a grain that has been refined—which means the nutrient-dense parts of it have been stripped away, leaving only the sticky, starchy center. This center, or endosperm, is essentially the nutritional equivalent of table sugar, and it has a similarly high impact on blood glucose.
The better choice is brown rice, which is a whole grain rich in beneficial phytochemicals and fiber. However, brown rice isn’t the only choice. When brown rice doesn’t fit your needs—or if you just aren’t a fan of its texture and flavor—other whole-grain options abound. Try barley, buckwheat (kasha), bulgur, or quinoa. Each of these grains has a slightly different texture and flavor, but all can be substituted for rice. They can be cooked on the stovetop in boiling water (or better yet, use chicken, beef, or vegetable broth).
While whole grains have been found to be beneficial to health in some studies, they are not essential in a healthy diet and most significantly raise blood sugar. Barley is known to be the grain with the lowest glycemic impact. With any whole grains, keep portions small (1/4 cup cooked). Read package directions for amounts and time. Always test in the last five to ten minutes to make sure the grains don’t become mushy.
Go back to the Great Food Swaps main page